New Zealand's image as a clean and green destination has been challenged.
New Zealand's image as a clean and green destination has been challenged. JAMES MORGAN

New Zealand's clean, green image under a cloud

A LORD of the Rings actor who now works as a tour guide operator has slammed New Zealand's "clean, green” image.

Bruce Hopkins, who starred as Gamling in the film trilogy, told Fairfax he was up-front with tourists when discussing NZ's environmental record, saying: "We ain't no land of milk and honey.”

Worried about the country's rivers and lakes being degraded by pollution from dairying, Hopkins called fresh waterways "gutter holes” and "sewer pipes”.

"You wouldn't even think of dipping your big toe into some of these places,” he said.

Hopkins, who entered the guide industry after Lord of The Rings conventions overseas, told Fairfax he'd begun to question why NZ wasn't doing more to protect its "100% Pure New Zealand” brand.

"I think there's more to be gained by being honest and having integrity than being deceitful and deceptive, and currently we are leaning towards being deceptive around how we sell ourselves as a tourist destination,” he said.

Similar calls have been sounded by groups such as the Tourism Export Council, which has backed a grass-roots national campaign calling for swimmable rivers.

The most recent major stocktake of NZ's environment - the Environment Aotearoa 2015 report - found that water quality in rivers running through intensively used land had worsened.


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